NATO Members Re-evaluate Contributions to Libya Mission

WASHINGTON, June 14, 2011 — NATO mem­bers are review­ing their con­tri­bu­tions with an eye toward increas­ing their sup­port to the ongo­ing mis­sion to pro­tect the Libyan peo­ple from Moam­mar Gadhafi’s forces, a NATO spokes­woman said today.
“It is clear that NATO has the resources to keep up the pres­sure on the Gad­hafi regime,” Oana Lunges­cu told reporters via video­con­fer­ence from Brus­sels. “We know it takes time. We know that fol­low­ing last week’s min­is­te­r­i­al meet­ing, allies and part­ners are con­sid­er­ing how they can best pro­vide the nec­es­sary resources to see this mis­sion through.”

NATO Sec­re­tary Gen­er­al Anders Fogh Ras­mussen is “con­fi­dent the alliance will do just that,” she said.

Defense Sec­re­tary Robert M. Gates joined his fel­low defense min­is­ters at last week’s min­is­te­r­i­al in Brus­sels to endorse the exten­sion of NATO’s Oper­a­tion Uni­fied Pro­tec­tor mis­sion by 90 days. The exten­sion autho­rizes NATO to con­tin­ue oper­a­tions through the end of Sep­tem­ber.

Gates also prod­ded NATO to increase its sup­port for the oper­a­tion, telling NATO’s Secu­ri­ty and Defense Agen­da assem­bly the day after the min­is­te­r­i­al the mis­sion as it stands reflects lack of both resources and will.

“While every alliance mem­ber vot­ed for the Libya mis­sion, less than half have par­tic­i­pat­ed, and few­er than a third have been will­ing to par­tic­i­pate in the strike mis­sion,” he said. “Frankly, many of those allies sit­ting on the side­lines do so not because they do not want to par­tic­i­pate, but sim­ply because they can’t. The mil­i­tary capa­bil­i­ties sim­ply aren’t there.”

Despite these gaps, Gates rec­og­nized that the mis­sion has suc­ceed­ed in ground­ing Gadhafi’s air force and degrad­ing his regime’s abil­i­ty to kill his own peo­ple. “While the oper­a­tion has exposed some short­com­ings caused by under­fund­ing,” the sec­re­tary said, “it has also showed the poten­tial of NATO, with an oper­a­tion where Euro­peans are tak­ing the lead with Amer­i­can sup­port.”

NATO Deputy Spokesper­son and Roy­al Air Force Wing Cmdr. Mike Brack­en, mil­i­tary spokesman for Oper­a­tion Uni­fied Pro­tec­tor, report­ed “con­sid­er­able dynam­ic activ­i­ty across Libya” dur­ing the past few days, with fre­quent skir­mish­es in pock­ets of the coun­try between pro-Gad­hafi and rebel forces.

NATO is mon­i­tor­ing the con­stant­ly evolv­ing sit­u­a­tion on the ground close­ly as it con­tin­ues its oper­a­tions, Brack­en said today via tele­con­fer­ence from the Com­bined Joint Task Force Head­quar­ters in Naples, Italy.

Much of NATO’s effort is focused on Tripoli, where air strikes con­tin­ue to degrade Gadhafi’s com­mand-and-con­trol nodes and oth­er mil­i­tary tar­gets and ulti­mate­ly, his forces’ abil­i­ty to coor­di­nate attacks, Brack­en report­ed.

“We know that Tripoli is the lynch­pin for the com­mand and con­trol of the Gad­hafi regime and his abil­i­ty to issue orders to field­ed forces,” he said.

NATO also is tar­get­ing ammu­ni­tion stor­age bunkers and facil­i­ties across Libya to deny Gad­hafi forces muni­tions and reduce the threat of attacks on the civil­ian pop­u­la­tion.

NATO will con­tin­ue to dis­man­tle the regime’s abil­i­ty to coor­di­nate attacks and direct vio­lence against the coun­try, and reduce pro-Gad­hafi forces’ free­dom to maneu­ver,” Brack­en said.

Lunges­cu expressed opti­mism at Germany’s and the Unit­ed Arab Emi­rates’ recent deci­sions to rec­og­nize the anti-Gad­hafi Nation­al Tran­si­tion­al Coun­cil estab­lished in Feb­ru­ary as “the sole legit­i­mate rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the Libyan peo­ple.”

She called the deci­sion “fur­ther evi­dence of the increas­ing iso­la­tion of the Gad­hafi regime and that, quite sim­ply, this regime has no future.”

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

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